The meagre existence faced by people on Newstart Allowance had been brought into sharp focus by ACOSS's Bread and Water Call To Action in Sydney, the Australian Greens said today.
"The absolute, stark reality of life on Newstart is that people are forced to skip meals and survive without things the community regards as essential," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.
"People are consistently telling me that they need to cut back on food, skip meals and delay paying important bills because they simply can't afford them. People are also relying on the financial support of family and friends, or are forced into debt in order to cover costs, particularly in the event of unexpected bills or medical expenses.
"This is the daily prospect faced by jobseekers and single parents on Newstart.
"ACOSS and a wide range of community groups, business organisations and unions support a $50 per week increase to Newstart. This would be delivered through Australian Greens' legislation currently before the Parliament.
"Simply tinkering around the edges of Newstart, as the Government may do in the budget next week, will not adequately help people who are struggling each day. Increasing the rate of the payment has to be the top priority.
"The Labor Party has shown no interest in standing up to big business and the mining sector in order to deliver the revenue that would allow for this $50 per week increase to be implemented, while Tony Abbott would simply continue John Howard's hard-line regime of welfare to work measures.
"Only the Greens are listening to people in the community who have made it so very clear that increasing Newstart is an essential step.